Interview with Matt McGinnis, Austin’s Wine and Cocktail Expert

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Matt-McGinnisMatt McGinnis is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director at Cohn & Wolfe in Austin.  That is impressive but the reason I am introducing you to him is because of his work on his blog at the What Are You Drinking?.  He interviews all the players in the beverage industry and reviews wine and cocktails with a unique style. He also writes for CultureMap, Austin Man Magazine and Austin Woman Magazine. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also managed to recently become a certified sommelier.  So, if you want to know about what is going on in the food and beverage world in Central Texas, there are very few people as qualified as Matt to talk with.

EAA: Matt, you have had a lot of success writing about the alcohol industry.  How did you get started?

Matt: I have always been fascinated with the alcohol industry, especially wine. I guess it started when I went to Europe when I was 19. I got to try really good wine for the first time and I was hooked. The passion grew from there and I was fortunate enough to work at Argyle Winery in Oregon. It was a great way to learn all aspects of the business from the agriculture, to the production to the sales and marketing. I’m just fascinated by the uniqueness of the industry.  And there are absolutely amazing personalities in the industry too so it is a lot of fun.

EAA: When did you start writing about it?

Matt: I talked about wine and other beverages all the time and my my wife encouraged me to start writing about it.  That was how What Are You Drinking? got started. Initially, I was doing quick and in the moment stories. My first post was about Bud Light Lime if you can believe that. I kept posting frequently in the first few months, just trying to get content out there. Things picked up after I did an interview with the Peter Mondavi of the Charles Krug Winery. That recognizable interview led to PR agencies contacting me, which led to additional interview opportunities.

EAA: What thoughts would you like to share with a newcomer to Austin

Matt: I think a really great resource is the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide.  I think they are much better than a Citysearch or a Yelp.  When someone is blogging about a topic like restaurants, they have spent the time to know what they are talking about.

The Austin Food Blogger Alliance is a really great organization in general.  The content is great for everyone, but they really help bloggers with advice and service to the community.

EAA: What would you put on your Austin Bucket List?

Matt: First, check out the swimming holes – Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, Hamilton Pool. Second, go check out the Capitol. Its super touristy, but it is great.  Three, try the food.  When I first moved here it was bad, but in the last 6 years it has really gone up a notch. Paul Qui, his attention to detail is amazing.  Also Arro.  Its new and it is fantastic.  Finally, just go walk around.  Just like you would in London or New York.  Check out downtown.  Check out Congress.  Get on a bike and take it all in.

EAA: Any warnings for newcomers?

Matt: Don’t have any expectations when you come here.  People come for one weekend or hear stories in the media about Austin, but those stories probably aren’t the whole picture.  Come here and talk to people…that’s the only way you can know Austin.

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